There was name-calling after the Penang state assembly today when Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (pic) accused opposition leader Datuk Jahara Hamid of being a "racist grandmother" when she alleged there was selective prosecution of Malay hawkers in the state.
In debating the 2014 Budget, Jahara had questioned why no action was taken against Chinese hawkers who operated illegally at Pantai Bersih in Butterworth while action was always taken against Malay hawkers by the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP).
Lim (DAP-Air Putih) accused Jahara (BN-Teluk Ayer Tawar) of taking a racist line and trying to "twist the issue" when she could have just questioned why the local councils were not acting against illegal hawkers.
"It is all right to criticise us for not taking action but why be racist and continue this racist propaganda?
"I always thought of Jahara as a typical grandmother but now she has become an unreasonable and racist grandmother," he said at a press conference in the state legislative assembly building.
He said Jahara did not mention that there were more than four Malay stalls along Pantai Bersih.
Phee Boon Poh (DAP-Sungai Puyu), who was present, said MPSP, during the rule of Barisan Nasional from 2004 to 2008, did not allow Malay traders to operate along Pantai Bersih.
He said former Seberang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah could verify that because he had visited the place himself.
"They (BN) have their own agenda. So who is being racist?" he asked.
Apart from the hawker issue, Jahara was criticised for making allegations that developers have to get the nod from MPs and assemblymen for their projects.
She also mentioned claims that Pulau Jerejak had been renamed "Mazu Island" and that the state had approved land to build a statue of a goddess in a temple on the island.
Jahara had shown pictures of Batu Maung assemblyman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim handing over aid to the temple, and a banner of Lim inviting the public to a DAP "Ubah" fundraising event in January this year.
She obtained the photographs from the temple's Facebook page, which also showed a photograph of Lim shaking the hand of an unidentified person.
Pakatan Rakyat backbenchers hit back and demanded that Jahara retract some of her remarks but speaker Datuk Law Choo Kiang asked her to continue her speech, debating the state's 2014 budget.
However, in a show of support and solidarity towards Jahara, all 10 Umno assemblymen staged a walkout.
At the press conference, Lim denied his administration had given consent to change Pulau Jerejak's name or to build a statue of a deity on the island.
He said he is waiting for a report on the matter from the Land Office before he responds in detail.
"This is another lie, a thousand naughty lies (by Jahara). Just because someone takes a photo with me does not mean I know the person,” he said.
"Many people want to take photos with me and I do not know some of them, unless they are reporters."
He urged Jahara not to act "unprofessionally" and to refrain from acting like former state opposition leader Datuk Azhar Ibrahim who was suspended twice during his term from 2008 to May 5 this year. – December 9, 2013.